Today we meet Nina Brackett, an ACBA and Senior Business Analyst, who recently completed The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program and gained the confidence in her role that she had been searching for.
What we love about Nina’s story is that due to organizational restructuring, she found herself in a Business Analyst role for the first time and strongly desired to develop the skills needed to succeed in this new role. Her desire for knowledge led her to find Bridging the Gap content online. From there, she made the decision to join The Blueprint® program to ultimately earn her ACBA.
In this interview, you’ll discover how:
- Nina made the transition from Product Manager to Business Analyst.
- Nina discovered Bridging the Gap and determined the structure of the program to be most impactful for where she was in her career.
- The feedback she received from her instructor has helped her in her career even now.
- Nina is now able to recognize transferable skills early, specifically relationship building from previous roles.
- Nina was pushed out of her comfort zone but her confidence increased greatly because of the stretching.
Nina was pushed out of her comfort zone but her confidence increased greatly because of the stretching.
NINA BRACKETT: There are many reasons to do this program, and everybody has their own reasons depending on their situation. Going back to the feedback and the confidence that you get from having the feedback and knowing if you’re on the right track, or just even knowing areas where you can improve. That is so valuable. And the feedback is, it’s kind of evergreen, too, in a sense that like I’ve gone back to a couple of different workbook assignments where I knew you told me something that was really important and helpful that I needed. I needed to hear that again for a project that I was working on at work.
ANDREA WILSON: So I am Andrea Wilson with Bridging the GP here today with Nina Brackett to talk about your experience with the Blueprint program. Welcome, welcome, welcome. I am super happy to have you with me today. We want to talk about what you’ve done. I want to first verbally congratulate you as an ACBA participant. You have earned your status there, that certificate. Congratulations.
NINA BRACKETT: Thank you so much.
ANDREA WILSON: Long time coming, but you did it with very much with grace. Thank you. Thank you for participating.
Tell us a little bit about you. I want to know your title and the industry.
NINA BRACKETT: Okay. My current title is Senior Business Analyst. I work for a professional membership organization that serves investment and finance professionals. I’ve worked with the company that I’m with now for 14 years and have worked in my entire career serving the membership in one way or another. Actually started out in the client services, kind of member services role where I was working with individual members who had questions about how to renew their membership or how to join. Also reviewing membership applications to determine if someone is eligible to join our organization.
And then we also have a network of local organizations around the globe. I got to work with a certain subset of those organizations as well. That is really where I loved, in that role, it was like the third of that job that I loved the most.
Project Management Role
At this organization, things change a lot, frequently. And so, reorganization happened and I kind of got to the point with the membership services role where there wasn’t a lot of growth opportunity left. So I was trying to think about what transferable skills can I learn? What path do I want to go down? There isn’t a whole lot of places I can take my knowledge of membership at this one organization and have that be useful to other employers. So I was really at a point where I’d really had to do some evaluation of my career goals were where I really wanted to go. At the time I was thinking of project management because, really, a lot of people were talking about it at the time. There are people in my organization who were getting their PMP designation and I thought, yeah, that sounds like I would be good at those skills. I think I could really shine there doing that kind of job.
Product Owner Role
After I was in that role for about a month, I would say, we had one of those reorganizations and I actually just got moved over into a product owner role. So, my very first job working with IT and basically being the kind of go between the new product manager and the IT delivery team.
And unbeknownst to me at the time, writing user stories, doing the use cases, working up wireframes, defining the acceptance criteria, all of those things were part of my job. I was learning on the job. It was really a very hectic, crazy time for me in my career because I was just learning so much and it was all kind of confusing because it was IT related and it was new and I was just, I was there doing the work and spending a lot of time on the job too. As fate would have it, we had another reorg two and a half years later, and I ended up in a product manager role.
Product Manager Role
What I learned about being a product manager is that there are two different parts of the job, at least at my organization. There was the kind of the detail oriented, getting into the solution kind of work. And there was the strategy and the vision for the product and where do we want to go in the future kind of work.
After doing that for about a year, I just went to my boss and I said, “This part over here is not for me. I really want to work on the details. I want to work on defining and explaining the business process or the use case. Those are the things that I’m really much more interested in. Those are the things that I find myself spending more time on.” And it worked out that they still wanted me to continue in that role. And the product manager, more strategic side of things, they found another person who could come in and fill that role. So, that is how I ended up being a senior business analyst.
Moving to a Business Analyst Role
But when I took that role, I didn’t really know what a business analyst did. I said I thought that it was what I wanted to do because of it being kind of more in the weeds and getting into details of things. I started going out looking for things I could learn. I did some LinkedIn learning. I did some YouTube videos and random things. And I came across a couple of Laura’s videos and those were like a godsend.
When I found out she had Bridging the Gap and she had this whole program, it was like maybe five days before the deadline that I found out about, the registration deadline, that I found out about the Blueprint program. And so within a span of five days, I had to figure out should I pay for this myself? My employer will pay me if I pass, but am I willing to take that risk? And I was, because I just so hungry for the knowledge and, really, just to build back my confidence of feeling good about the work I was doing and knowing that I was doing a good job. And I hadn’t been getting that for quite some time for that. That’s how I got here.
ANDREA WILSON: That’s how you got here. That’s quite the journey. I have been reviewing things and I see that you started kind of with account manager. You did some business relationship. I hear product owner, I hear product manager or some project management, and you found your place with business analysis and that is, awesome
And then you had an opportunity to do some different training with LinkedIn. You had a chance to do some YouTube. And then you stumbled upon the Bridging the Gap. So what is it about the Bridging the Gap product that was different for you that made you make the decision to go for it?
NINA BRACKETT: So, the first thing I purchased from Bridging the Gap, I can’t remember the exact name, but it was a template packet. It was like eight or nine different templates. I was like, wow. It was like revolutionary. An idea to have just like this, you know what each of these things means, and you can fill it in and you can apply it to any project. It’s like, wow. So, that was the very first introduction to what kind of products Bridging the Gap is producing and putting out there.
There was also a manual that came along with that, that said, this is how you use each of these templates. And I was like, wow, maybe I need to learn some more about this.
The testimonials and the way that the program was structured, the fact that you can get, you have homework, it’s not just a test. You have homework. You have to present a project to an instructor and they gave you feedback. I was like, yes. That’s what I want. I want someone to tell me what I’m doing wrong. What am I doing right, where can I improve? And so that was really the selling point for me, was just having, even though it wasn’t a face-to-face dialogue, it was the feedback and the back and forth through the workbook assignments that really sold me on it.
ANDREA WILSON: Sweet. It sounds like you started with the template bundle. There were some instructions there. You had an opportunity to see a little bit of the training, and you decided, okay, I’m going to go for this. Still a little bit nervous about whether or not you were going to pass. But you did it. You took a plunge and I really want to hear about your experience then. Once you went through those things and you went to the program, you have some feedback from the instructors; it sounds like the structure of the program worked for you. Let’s hear a little bit more about what it was in the program that stood out for you.
NINA BRACKETT: Oh, wow. I think it was the cycle of assignments that kept me engaged in going. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in school. And I have a little ADHD, so focusing on one thing, like really focusing on one thing for a while is pretty easy. But then, to get it to use that same amount of strength to focus on the second thing and the third thing and everything else, it took a little bit more effort. But with the structure of the videos, the web, the pre-recorded webinars, or not webinars; they are pre-recorded class sessions. And then the live webinars with the instructors, they just solidified the information that Laura did in her videos. Just the whole structure of that really kept me going, kept me engaged.
The other people in the class, again, I kind of felt like I wanted to call them up and be like, “Hey, let’s talk about these problems together.” But there was not a platform in which to do that unless you, I guess, unless you brought it up to someone in a webinar.
ANDREA WILSON: So you hold a certificate in product management and you moved on to do your Certificate in Applied Business Analysis. I’d like to know a little bit about your feelings about the program. You started out with the template bundle and it answered some questions for you and you were hungrier for knowledge and you, in a very short period, found out about registering for the Blueprint and decided to take that plunge. I’d like to hear about your experience there and what stood out about that program for you.
NINA BRACKETT: Yeah, so the thing that really stood out for me and what I was really hoping to gain by going through the Blueprint program was to gain transferable skills that I could use on my current job, as well as future jobs potentially as well as just really feeling confident about the work I was doing, that I knew if I was on the right track. Because up until that point, I didn’t really have any colleagues that I could work with on business analysis. I didn’t have a framework for it. And so understanding the differences between a use case and a business process, it seems pretty obvious now, but before I started the program, that was just like a different language for me. So, the transferrable skills and the confidence building is really what sold me on taking the program and really what kept me going throughout it because I was just learning so much as I was going through each workbook.
ANDREA WILSON: Nice. I love that you mentioned confidence. We hear that a lot and feedback is really important. That’s something that you don’t always get when you’re at your day-to-day work, and then sometimes you wonder, “Geez. Am I doing a good job or am I doing the right job?” Especially when you’re new. You’ve done some things that were very transferrable because you management and business relationship. You had this opportunity early on to build relationships with stakeholders. Nothing new to the program and you’ve had an opportunity to see what stakeholders were and what to do with them. So tell me your experience there. I want to know how you feel about those desired transferrable skills when you realize, “I’ve already got some of these.”
NINA BRACKETT: Yes. It was really eye-opening in that way too, because the working with stakeholders and digging to the root of a problem and determining what the business objectives are and understanding the inputs into the process and the different users who are going to go through, those were all things that I had done, but I didn’t know that I did. So, it was really eye-opening. That has given me a lot of confidence too, and I can look back on some of my previous work and have kind of two different thoughts.
The one thought is, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I did work that mattered and I probably didn’t go about it the easiest way or the fastest way, but I got it done and this is what we produced. And the second way is to say, “Oh, when I did XYZ feature, and we were having these discussions, I should have brought the stakeholders in from the business to have this conversation with our delivery team so that that I could help connect the dots in a meeting instead of trying to translate from this side to this side and then get just how things get lost in translation, which often happens.
ANDREA WILSON: Yeah. So you gained some techniques throughout the program. Having these meetings where you can bring everybody to the table and get it all out. That’s awesome.
One of the big things about the program is the structure and trying to get you organized. We have that framework in place where you learn about here are the steps that you could take. And some of them are iterative. But here are the steps you can take to get organized and get off in a good path. And you realize you’ve already got some of those skills. You already know. You’re already talking to stakeholders, you’re already getting down to the nitty gritty. Those details that you like to get down into. Well now you can be more organized about it. So I’m glad that was kind of a dawn of realization for you and you were able to say, “Hey, I’ve already got this skill. Now I can organize myself and really hit the ground running.” Senior business analyst thing. Awesome.
All right, so, we talked about some feedback and that you were getting from instructors and one of the things I saw was your mention about the structure of the feedback and the building confidence. What outcome have you had, professionally or personally, now that you’ve gained that confidence? Is there anything that you’d like to share about that?
NINA BRACKETT: I think that probably because it pushed me outside of my comfort zone, like the first day comfort zone step was posting the certificate on LinkedIn and tagging the people who I felt were really instrumental in helping me through the program, and Bridging the Gap, as an organization and putting it out there for the world to see. All of my professional connections, people who I told I was doing the program, people that I didn’t ever come up in conversation, people that I worked with at previous roles 15 years ago, people that I worked with and having them congratulate me, that felt really, really good.
But I was very scared to hit the “post” button on that because it’s just not a thing that I do normally.
ANDREA WILSON: Would you do it again given the feedback?
NINA BRACKETT: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely I would. Yeah, for sure.
ANDREA WILSON: Fantastic. Is there anything else you’d like to share? Is there any particular module in the Blueprint program that stood out for you or anything else you’d like to share?
NINA BRACKETT: I talked to so many people at my job. My manager, at the time in particular, about how much I was learning as I was going through. I remember after the first workbook I told her, I was like, if I learn as much from the next three assignments that I did from the first one, I’m really going to be out there kicking butt. I just felt like there was so much that, like the pieces were coming together and things were making so much more sense. And, like you said, putting it into a framework in an organized way has really helped take a lot of stress out of my day-to-day. That’s one area where I always really struggled in all of my roles, how do I structure my day, and what do I do? How do I go about getting the work done? Having the framework for the Blueprint for the business analysis work, it’s really just helped me just really feel much better on the job.
ANDREA WILSON: Sweet. This is your opportunity. Is there anything you’d like to share with anybody out there who’s thinking about the Blueprint or thinking about further training? Is there anything you would like to share with them? Any tips you’d like to give to them?
NINA BRACKETT: Sure. So, I think that there are many reasons to do this program and everybody has their own reasons depending on their situation. But I think going back to the feedback and the confidence that you get from having the feedback and knowing if you’re on the right track, or just even knowing areas where you can improve, that is so valuable. And the feedback is, it’s kind of evergreen too, in a sense that I’ve gone back to a couple different workbook assignments where I knew you told me something that was really important and helpful that I needed. I needed to hear that again for a project that I was working on at work.
There are so many ways, so many little ways and so many big ways that this program can help people with their business analysis career.
ANDREA WILSON: Awesome. Thank you for that, first of all. It’s always nice to hear that. That “a-ha” moment. It’s great to see it. We have these instructor hours. We have the big webinars where we break down what we’re going to do for each module. The instructor one more is where we get to have that one-on-one. And the participants have an opportunity to talk with other participants, and the synergy that builds from that feels really good from the instructor, and it’s really, really nice to hear from our participants that those opportunities to connect, not just with the instructors, but also with each other builds confidence.
And then further, once you’ve submitted your applied learning; it’s not a test. You’re applying what you’re learning doing these projects and you get the feedback. It’s really pleasant to hear that you are still referring to that and that it’s still helps you to move forward. So, thank you.
ANDREA WILSON: I want to say thank you for talking with me today. Taking the time to do this and agreeing to meet with us and sharing your experience is very valuable for anybody that might be considering to do this. And just hearing about your success. I’ve seen some of it on LinkedIn and I’m kind of celebrating, your little cheerleader over here. We were celebrating you in the program. So thank you so much for speaking with me.
NINA BRACKETT: Thank you, Andrea. Thank you for the opportunity.
How to Learn the Foundational Business Analyst Skills
(And Build Your Body of Formal Work Samples)
When you join The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, you’ll gain real-world experience in the industry-standard techniques and business analysis processes. You’ll create work samples vetted by experienced instructors and have the opportunity to become a credentialed business analyst as a recipient of the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).